Nestled in the French Alps, Grenoble may be hard to get to, but it has consistently made strong and established contributions to the tech industry.
In European terms, Grenoble is a pioneering cluster. Long before cities like London, Berlin, Moscow and even Paris aped the Silicon Valley model and defined themselves as centers for urban hipsters and entrepreneurs, the French government funded schemes to bring research, academia and industry together.
The city is also known for its expertise in micro- and nano-technology. Established companies and market leaders such as STMicroelectronics and NXP Semiconductors are based in the city.
The reason for the prevalence of these technologies is partly due to Inria, a government-funded public science and technology institution established in France in 1967. It has eight research centers located across France, a €264 million budget and the Grenoble and Lyon research Centre, established in 1992. The Inria Grenoble–Rhône-Alpes centre has 34 research teams and 250 PhD students, 45% of whom come from overseas.
Since 1998 it has created more than 20 startups in industries such as road traffic management, 3D cinema and communication infrastructure management. In recent times, brands like smart window company Hilabs and advice systems company SysFera have emerged from its Grenoble center.